Exclusive: Big Swole speaks on black women in wrestling and last RISE event
Big Swole had a breakout year in 2019. The wrestler, who was formerly known as Aerial Monroe, emerged as a top prospect as she secured her first singles title win over the summer. In December, she also made her network television debut on AEW Dynamite as one of the company’s hottest signings.
Over the weekend, Philip Lindsey of Bell to Belles got a chance to sit down with Swole following her match at Warrior Wrestling 8.
Big Swole made history last year as the first black Phoenix of RISE Champion and one half of the first black SHINE Tag Team Champions. She also officially signed with AEW. So, she briefly spoke about how the response to her has changed since last year.
“Well, it’s been pretty positive. I’ve been having a lot of fans reaching out saying I’m an inspiration or their proud of me for the Crohn’s disease or for I guess taking RISE to another level or/and the SHINE tag team titles. It’s just been overwhelmingly great to see all the responses and hear people just have my back, you know? So, it felt good.”
Last April, Swole wrote a blog about representation for RISE’s website. Today, as a black woman who has represented both RISE and SHINE as a champion, she talked about how her view on the subject may have made a difference.
“Well, it’s been a change, especially since after doing my piece on #RepresentationMatters and bringing it forward. Because I feel like I spent a lot of time I guess like building up my reputation and my name and my word and everything like that so when I say stuff it means something. So just representing the companies and also speaking out against something I see is wrong, it’s definitely brought a lot more light and a lot more opportunities for women of color like to SHINE and all over now.”
On the subject of representation, her friend and former tag-team partner, Aja Perera, recently joined NXT as their first female African American referee. Big Swole gave her thoughts on the move.
“Oh man, that’s uh. If you can see my smile, my smile is super huge right now. I absolutely love it. That is my girl, my ace, and you know? We go back like four flats on a Cadillac or a Cadillac with four flats. Like I’m so proud of her. Just for her to go there and then also to make history, I’m just happy that her life is now a direct reflection in what I see in her. Like it’s pure and a lot of light. She’s just a wonderful person.”
We’re in the middle of Black History Month. During the occasion, some companies like WWE highlight the accomplishments of black wrestlers. However, the contributions black women are often excluded from these vignettes and slideshows. In response, Swole spoke on her experiences with the matter.
“Yeah, It’s one of those things where I personally believe that the black woman is always either pushed to the side or forgotten about. So, when it’s time to list off the accolades for whoever did what as far as being black, you know? We’re always on the bottom of the list or the bottom of the totem pole. I believe that like people like myself or Tasha Steelz or Holidead, I think we’re pressing the issue saying, you know, we are here, you know? Trish Adora, the same as her. Like we’re here. We’ve made this history. We’re continuing to make history and we’re not going to go anywhere. I just believe that once we get enough voices that we’ll eventually be heard and eventually they’ll show, you know, people that paved the way beforehand and not just see them as ‘oh this is a sideshow’ but realizing that hey these matches with Jazz helped make this person’s career, you know?”
Speaking of Tasha Steelz, she and Big Swole are scheduled to headline JobberSlam on July 4. This is significant because it’s rare to see two women of color compete in the main event of a show. Swole opened up about what it meant to get this opportunity.
“I’m more than excited. I’m ready to make this history. I’m ready to do it with my family. I’m just, I guess it’s also a big weight because there’s so much pressure because I feel like as a black woman you can’t mess up because I’m representing so much. Even with all that pressure, I’m still like ready to just like face this head-on. I’m still ready to do this match. I’m still ready to make this history with her. I’m still ready to have this moment in the sun, where all eyes are on us and we’re like ‘Look, we can do this.’ Like I said before we are here. I’m very excited for that match. I can’t wait.”
Lastly, she discussed the upcoming main event of RISE: Legendary-A CHARMING FINALE, where Big Swole and Kylie Rae will headline the promotion’s last live event. Briefly, the Phoenix of RISE Champion discussed what it means to receive such an honor.
“I’m ready. I feel like I’m ready. It’s so bittersweet because like the owner of RISE, Kevin Harvey, will always tell the story that when he was thinking about RISE and what to do um he speaking to me at a RISE show and our conversation kind of lead to him creating RISE and everything. So, it like ‘if it wasn’t for Swole, you know, maybe RISE wouldn’t have, you know, came about’ and it’s just full circle now that, you know, I’m the last one to hold the title, at least for now. And I’m excited to do it with Kylie. Like I’ve never wrestled her before, so this is the first time we’re ever going to be able to touch inside of the ring and I’m just ready. I’m just ready. That’s all I can say is I’m ready for it. I just excited and I’m ready for it.”